Day 2, morning one. It was my first Monday morning in a very long time. My disabilities took my freedom from me. My freedom to work. On this Monday morning, I walked about a quarter mile on the way to work, before hitchhiking for a ride.
Today was more than my first day volunteering for this Collective Garden. It was also the 4 year anniversary of the day my physician had discharged me without notice; putting me involuntarily into withdrawals from the fentanyl and percocet he had been prescribing for five years. For the two years before that, it had been my general physician. But strangely enough, she was no longer in practice.
This Monday morning felt triumphant. I had begun to take my life back with my baptism in the spring, now perhaps I could at least have the opportunity to help others at the same time as ease the incredible strain on my pocket book that my medical costs were, as they are to anyone on disability.
The day started off wonderfully. I began to learn my way around the front desk procedures; as I had been trained on the bud-tending bar the previous Saturday night shift.
I was given passwords and asked to update the web menu on many sites. I began to become acquainted with the other volunteers and their stories.
County Line was owned and operated by a woman on disability who got tired of her husband sitting around smoking pot all day and doing nothing. So, they started a Collective Garden with a grow and a lounge in the back where he could still, in fact, sit around and smoke weed all day. Only now, they could make money off of it. That was my observation on first glance. I saw a family with two disabled parents attempting to get by and looking at what they knew and making the best of it.
Jim (all of the names have been changed) was the official owner of the business with their adult son as a partner, as not to get his wife in trouble with Social Security; but he was quick to point out that his wife, Betty, was the true boss. She was, in fact, the one who did the books….and the one to whom the boys on night-shift were answerable for their shenanigans.
Betty and I got along quite well. In fact, I still miss her and keep her in my prayers.
Another volunteer I had the opportunity to meet was Jill. She was the “cleaning lady.” In fact, she was a very disabled woman. A patient who lived on a meager fixed income who had trouble affording her medicine. So, she offered to do anything for the Collective Garden. They made her the cleaning lady, and gave her one gram for every 6 hours of work.
For those of us who are disabled, every hour we work is worth so many more “able-bodied” hours. It takes us so much to be able to push past the pain coma of a pain level that sometimes reaches 9.5+ upon awakening without any cannabis in our system.
To procure a lowly $10 worth of medicine for 6 hours of bending, twisting, and lifting…doing all of those things that our physicians have warned us against, is something that too many of us would do in a heartbeat.
That was the remuneration that we all received. All of the volunteers were patients. We all received one gram of dry, cured, medicine for every 6 hours of work that we provided. As “volunteers”, it was a paradigm that was not uncommon, as testified by the volunteers who came from other places. Jim and Betty tried to “sweeten the deal” by promising a dream trip to all the volunteers and calling them “family”. Meanwhile, many were in the negative by the time they came to work that day.
On the shiny side of the cloud that first day, were the patients that I was able to meet and help. While riding a line, not attempting to give out medical advice, as none of us want to be practicing medicine without a license; I was able to share my personal experience with this plant in it’s topical, edible and combustible forms with a patient who was in severe pain. Within minutes after using a topical spray, she experienced relief. As a caregiver, it was enough to make me want to come back the next day to help again.
There are many stories that remain to be told. Many yet to write. County Line Alternative Medicine was north of an unfriendly county border and I lived south of that line. Living in unfriendly territory towards a medicine I have come to know is God’s was, and is, a challenge. Just because cannabis is legal in Washington does not mean it is liked. Many counties, even west of the Cascades, are very unfriendly to cannabis and anyone who uses it for any reason.
We must continue to spread education and understanding. Erase fear with education. Learn, teach, and grow. Overgrow with the Love and Lighte of Christ. And Cannabis.